How Do I Apply for Unemployment?

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More and more people in affected industries are being laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s brought a new question — “How do I apply for unemployment?” — to the forefront of many people’s minds after a long stretch of record low unemployment.

Here’s How to Apply for Unemployment

In case you’re unfamiliar with how unemployment compensation works, employers are assessed an unemployment insurance charge every month as part of their payroll. That money goes into a fund that pays a benefit when an employee loses a job.

“I’m hearing a lot of people badmouthing unemployment compensation. There’s nothing shameful about it,” money expert Clark Howard says. “Employers pay premiums over time during the good years to provide for those who get laid off in lean times. It’s not beneath you to accept this insurance money.”

The application process for unemployment insurance varies by state. But in general, you’ll need the following info to get started:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your name, date of birth and contact information
  • Employer names, addresses, telephone numbers and dates of employment within the last 18 months
  • If you are a union member, the name and local number of your union hall

The big change since our last cycle of major unemployment during the Great Recession is that you can easily apply online now for unemployment benefits. There’s no longer a need to stand in line at an unemployment center.

Here’s how to start the application process by state:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. Florida
  10. Georgia
  11. Hawaii
  12. Idaho
  13. Illinois
  14. Indiana
  15. Iowa
  16. Kansas
  17. Kentucky
  18. Louisiana
  19. Maine
  20. Maryland
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Michigan
  23. Minnesota
  24. Mississippi
  25. Missouri
  26. Montana
  27. Nebraska
  28. Nevada
  29. New Hampshire
  30. New Jersey
  31. New Mexico
  32. New York
  33. North Carolina
  34. North Dakota
  35. Ohio
  36. Oklahoma
  37. Oregon
  38. Pennsylvania
  39. Rhode Island
  40. South Carolina
  41. South Dakota
  42. Tennessee
  43. Texas
  44. Utah
  45. Vermont
  46. Virginia
  47. Washington
  48. West Virginia
  49. Wisconsin
  50. Wyoming

Meanwhile, has a guide to unemployment benefits that you may want to consult if you have questions about how it works in your state.

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